Grades 6-7- Ages 11-13*
This year of exploration in a world religions program seeks to deepen youth’s understanding of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied world in which they live. It seeks to broaden their knowledge of humanity and embolden their spiritual search.
Crossing Paths is rooted in religious pluralism. Put simply, this is a view that sees every religion as unique. Crossing Paths celebrates the values that religions share, but it emphasizes their uniqueness. Every world faith tradition was born in response to a distinct human struggle. We honor religions best when we work to understand the particular challenge and aspiration each religion has devoted itself to. So instead of using the metaphor of “One Mountain; Many Paths,” Crossing Paths invites us to see the religious landscape as “Many Mountains, Many Paths.”
A mountaineering metaphor is woven throughout our entire program. It especially shapes the Sunday schedule we follow. In a sense, we climb one mountain each month. And climbing requires the same steps each time: Familiarizing yourself with the map of the terrain, preparing your gear, making the climb and then sitting back to take it all in. This flow shapes the structure and names of the Sundays in each month. Here’s an overview:
This is the first Sunday of each month. This is when youth begin to learn about the religion they will visit in a couple of weeks. In others words, this is the Sunday the group looks over the “map of the terrain.” It is important to note that this doesn’t just involve learning a bunch of facts. This is an adventure after all. So we take an experiential learning approach, using ritual, activities and sensory experience.
Next comes “Tack Sunday.” You can’t head out on a journey until your gear is packed. So this Sunday is all about “tacking up.” Having reviewed the basics components of the focus religion last week, the group now adds to their “back pack” an awareness of what the religion says about the monthly theme question. Alongside that, the youth also explore how Unitarian Universalism engages it. This work is story based, so you can also think of this week as tacking up with sacred stories. The goal is to begin a conversation that the group will continue the following week with their interfaith hosts. This is also the week that the group reviews the 8 key skills or practices that they will use every time they visit an new faith community. We will say more about that in the below section called “The Eight Practices of Welcoming.”
Third comes the big day: the visit. It’s the day of the climb so to speak. We call this “Summit Day” rather than “Summit Sunday” in honor of the fact that many other religions don’t meet on Sunday and so the group’s visits will also happen on days other than Sunday.
No trip is complete without the chance to sit back and reflect on where you’ve been. So on the fourth Sunday, the group “sits by the lake” so to speak and processes their takeaways from the week before. This is not just a time to review what was learning, but also a time to think about what one wants to keep and take with them on the rest of their journey. These visits come with gifts. This session help youth name and integrate those gifts into their own spiritual life.
The World Religions class meets from 5:00-7:00 PM most Sundays, plus a monthly visit to another faith tradition.
Parents are responsible for bringing snacks on a rotating basis, and making sure their own particular middle schooler gets to class every week. Here’s the link to our schedule:
*Age in September is preferred placement. For any exceptions please contact the Director of Religious Education.
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To volunteer as a lead teacher or classroom assistant, please sign up here: